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Lasting Power of Attorney in the Real World

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Lasting Power of Attorney in the Real World

Sometimes legal discussions become so shrouded in facts, figures and theories that people can forget that a real person stands behind every matter raised- after all, law is effectively answers that have been devised to solve human problems.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), are one such topic that directly involve helping people- helping ensure that actions are made in their favour by someone they trust, even when the individual is unable to make these important choices themselves. This is one of the most personal legal matters there is- and instances showing the importance of the LPA happen every day in the real world.

For example, we are currently living in such difficult uncertain times. Every day, we read sad stories in the press about people who are seriously ill and their families trying to cope. Kate Garraway, Good Morning Britain presenter, told us of her difficulties trying to deal with her husband's financial affairs. He was seriously ill in hospital with Covid-19. It just adds to the stress of an already anxious time. A story like this brings to mind the importance of having formal arrangements in place should something happen to prevent you making decisions.

The law as it currently stands means that if you cannot make decisions for yourself and have not put alternative arrangements in place, then professionals such as doctors or social workers can make decisions about your health care or your welfare in light of what they judge to be in your "best interests". Decisions about your property or finances can only be made by someone appointed as your Deputy by the Court of Protection.

That person may be a family member but may also be an independent professional. These arrangements may not reflect your wishes and dealing with the Court of Protection is both expensive and intrusive.

We were all greatly moved by the recent story in the press of a daughter arrested for removing her 97-year-old mother from her care home. Ylenia Anglei's mother suffers from dementia, and she felt that her mother's condition was greatly deteriorating during lockdown because she had been unable to see family for months.  As a second lockdown was looming, Ms Anglei, a retired nurse, wanted to remove her mother from the care home and look after her at home. Fortunately, Ms Angeli was released by the police and charges were dropped but this could have all been avoided if an LPA had been put in place for Health and Welfare. An LPA for Property & Finances was in place but this cannot deal with matters such as where someone will live and what type of care they should receive when they lose mental capacity, thus Ms Anglei was punished for trying to act in her mother's best interest.

By making a Lasting Power of Attorney, you can choose the people that you would trust to make decisions for you if you cannot do so for yourself. These decisions can be in relation to your property and your finance but also your health and welfare. The latter concerns where you should live, your day to day care, the medical treatment you would consent to or refuse for when you are no longer able to make these decisions for yourself. It's best to make arrangements as early as you can, and to consider not only the financial aspects of your life, but also to consider who will have rights to make decisions about your welfare.

In order to be legally effective, an LPA must also be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. You can cancel an LPA at any time, even after it has been registered with the OPG so long as you are then mentally capable of doing so.

Call us today to discuss this or any other matter that is worrying you.

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